The road to the top:
Cape Reinga Seal Extension

Formerly the dusty finale on the journey to New Zealand's most northern point, Cape Reinga is the northernmost section of State Highway 1. The New Zealand Transport Agency contracted United Civil to do a $21.5m upgrade on this road.

With the seal extension works complete, what was a slow ride over the last 20km section of this highway is now a pleasant drive for the 120,000 tourists who visit Cape Reinga annually.

This high profile project attracted attention throughout New Zealand and abroad.

It was the recipient of a Roading New Zealand Award and in 2011, an IPENZ Arthur Mead Environmental Award.

This northernmost section of New Zealand’s longest highway, provides the only road access to the iconic Cape Reinga (Te Rerenga Wairua) – a site of major cultural significance, high ecological, environmental and tourism value.

We undertook substantial earthworks with a view to improving the alignment and geometry of the existing carriageway, along with drainage, pavement, surfacing, environmental protection and various landscaping works.

The new all-weather carriageway has a design life of 25 years and has been constructed using aggregates sourced from local quarries.

In addition to the seal extension of the road, we completed the civil works associated with the $6m upgrade of visitor facilities at Cape Reinga for the Department of Conservation.

Key features included:

  • logistical challenges associated with the remote location of the site
  • extensive use of local labour and the implementation of training programmes by United Civil in support of these employees
  • using pre-mixed lime stabilised basecourse, as an alternative pavement material and one that provides significant environmental plus engineering benefits
  • given the project is in an area that is home to many rare and endangered plants and animals, the works were subject to constant design modifications to minimise disturbance
  • construction of two new car parking areas
  • the formation of a new access track
  • resurfacing of the existing track to the lighthouse
  • the healing of damaged areas of landform by reshaping and replanting (by others)
  • construction of water supply and sewerage systems
  • removal of existing facilities
  • civil works associated with the construction of a new toilet block
  • erosion protection works.

The project was completed at the end of April 2010, eight months ahead of schedule.

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